Florida 595 is unappealing, even by truck-stop standards. Odour from a landfill next door permeates the humid air. Planes from a nearby airport buzz overhead. The average American trucker spends two-thirds of working time either in places like this or loadless on the road. So the wheelmen propping up the bar at 595 are giddy about a new breed of smartphone app. For a few years startups like Cargomatic and Convoy have been helping drivers maximise their gainful time behind the wheel by digitising the matching of shipments with lorries. Convoy called itself “Uber for freight”—until 2017, when Uber launched exactly that.
If Uber had presented itself as just a ride-hailing firm, analysts reckon, it would not have fetched an $82bn valuation when it listed in New York on May 10th. That was predicated on the platform’s potential to disrupt all road transport. Investors are having second thoughts: Uber’s share price fell sharply in its first two days as a public company (before regaining ground), perhaps on the realisation that the firm may struggle to make money anytime soon. Uber Freight is a case in point.